The Lone Mountain Compact

The Lone Mountain Compact
March 1, 2001

The phenomenon of urban sprawl has become a major controversy throughout the United States. The Political Economy Research Center (PERC) recently brought a number of scholars and writers to the Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana to address the issue.

At the meeting's close, participants distilled their conclusions into the following brief statement of principles. The authors have called this statement the "Lone Mountain Compact," and invite other writers and scholars to join them in endorsing its principles.

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Preamble

The unprecedented increase in prosperity over the last 25 years has created a large and growing upper middle class in America. New modes of work and leisure combined with population growth have fueled successive waves of suburban expansion in the 20th century.

Technological progress is likely to increase housing choice and community diversity even further in the 21st century, enabling more people to live and work outside the conventional urban forms of our time. These choices will likely include low-density, medium-density, and high-density urban forms.

This growth brings rapid change to our communities, often with negative side effects, such as traffic congestion, crowded public schools, and the loss of familiar open space. All of these factors are bound up in the controversy that goes by the term "sprawl."

The heightened public concern over the character of our cities and suburbs is a healthy expression of citizen demand for solutions that are responsive to our changing needs and wants. Yet tradeoffs between different policy options for addressing these concerns are poorly understood. Productive solutions to public concerns will adhere to the following fundamental principles.



Principles for livable cities

1. The most fundamental principle is that, absent a material threat to other individuals or the community, people should be allowed to live and work where and how they like.

2. Prescriptive, centralized plans that attempt to determine the detailed outcome of community form and function should be avoided. Such "comprehensive" plans interfere with the dynamic, adaptive, and evolutionary nature of neighborhoods and cities.

3. Densities and land uses should be market driven, not plan driven. Proposals to supercede market-driven land use decisions by centrally directed decisions are vulnerable to the same kind of perverse consequences as any other kind of centrally planned resource allocation decisions, and show little awareness of what such a system would have to accomplish even to equal the market in effectiveness.

4. Communities should allow a diversity in neighborhood design, as desired by the market. Planning and zoning codes and building regulations should allow for neotraditional neighborhood design, historic neighborhood renovation and conversion, and other mixed-use development and the more decentralized development forms of recent years.

5. Decisions about neighborhood development should be decentralized as far as possible. Local neighborhood associations and private covenants are superior to centralized or regional government planning agencies.

6. Local planning procedures and tools should incorporate private property rights as a fundamental element of development control. Problems of incompatible or conflicting land uses will be better resolved through the revival of common law principles of nuisance than through zoning regulations, which tend to be rigid and inefficient.

7. All growth management policies should be evaluated according to their cost of living and "burden-shifting" effects. Urban growth boundaries, minimum lot sizes, restrictions on housing development, restrictions on commercial development, and other limits on freely functioning land markets that increase the burdens on lower income groups must be rejected.

8. Market-oriented transportation strategies--such as peak period road pricing, HOT lanes, toll roads, and de-monopolized mass transit--should be employed. Monopoly public transit schemes, especially fixed rail transit that lacks the flexibility to adapt to the changing destinations of a dynamic, decentralized metropolis, should be viewed skeptically.

9. The rights of present residents should not supercede those of future residents. Planners, citizens, and local officials should recognize that "efficient" land use must include consideration for household and consumer wants, preferences, and desires. Thus, growth controls and land-use planning must consider the desires of future residents and generations, not solely current residents.

10. Planning decisions should be based upon facts, not perceptions. A number of the concerns raised in the "sprawl" debate are based upon false perceptions. The use of good data in public policy is crucial to the continued progress of American cities and the social advance of all its citizens.

The Lone
Mountain Coalition*
Jonathan
Adler


Arlington, Virginia

Ryan Amacher, Ph.D.

Department of Economics

University of Texas

Arlington, Texas

Terry Anderson, Ph.D.

PERC/Hoover Institution

Bozeman, Montana

Angela Antonelli

The Heritage Foundation

Washington, DC

John A. Baden, Ph.D.

Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE)

Bozeman, Montana

Michael B. Barkey

Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Bruce Benson

Department of Economics

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

John Berthoud

National Taxpayers Union

Alexandria, Virginia

Robert Bish

School of Public Administration

University of Victoria

British Columbia, Canada

Clint Bolick

Institute for Justice

Washington, DC

Samuel Bostaph

Department of Economics

University of Dallas

Irving, Texas

J. C. Bowman

Children First Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Jerry Bowyer

Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Gordon L. Brady, Ph.D.

Center for the Study of Public Choice

George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia

James Burling

Pacific Legal Foundation

Sacramento, California

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.

National Center for Policy Analysis

Dallas, Texas

Henry N. Butler

School of Business

University of Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

William N. Butos

Department of Economics

Trinity College

Hartford, Connecticut

Jon Caldara

Independence Institute

Denver, Colorado

F. Patricia Callahan

American Association of Small Property Owners

Washington, DC

Jim Cardle

Lone Star Foundation and Report

Austin, Texas

Anthony T. Caso

Pacific Legal Foundation

Sacramento, California

John Charles

Cascade Policy Institute

Portland, Oregon

Kenneth W. Chilton, Ph.D.

Center for the Study of American Business

Washington University

St. Louis, Missouri

J. R. Clark

Center for Economic Education

University of Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Daniel Coldwell

Department of Economics

University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee

Michael Coulter

Shenango Institute for Public Policy

Grove City, Pennsylvania

Wendell Cox

Wendell Cox Consultancy

Belleville, Illinois

Louis De Alessi, Ph.D.

Coral Gables, Florida

Robert de Posada

Hispanic Business Roundtable

Washington, DC

Sean Duffy

Commonwealth Foundation

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Becky Norton Dunlop

The Heritage Foundation

Washington, DC

Jefferson G. Edgens, Ph.D.

University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

William A. Fischel

Department of Economics

Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire

B. Delworth Gardner

Department of Economics

Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah

Michael Gilstrap

Tennessee Institute for Public Policy

Nashville, Tennessee

Peter Gordon, Ph.D.

School of Policy, Planning and Development

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

Grant
Gulibon


Commonwealth Foundation

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Paul Guppy

Washington Institute Foundation

Seattle, Washington

Robert L. Hale

Northwest Legal Foundation

Minot, North Dakota

Rick Harrison

Harrison Site Designs

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jake Haulk, Ph.D.

Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Steven Hayward, Ph.D.

Pacific Research Institute

San Francisco, California

Andy Herr

Department of Economics

St. Vincent College

Latrobe, Pennsylvania

P. J. Hill

Department of Business and Economics

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

Randall Holcombe, Ph.D.

Department of Economics

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

John Hood

The John Locke Foundation

Raleigh, North Carolina

Stephen L. Jackstadt

College of Business and Public Policy

University of Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska

Jeff Judson

Texas Public Policy Foundation

San Antonio, Texas

Jo Kwong, Ph.D.

Atlas Economic Research Foundation

Fairfax, Virginia

George Landrith, III

Frontiers of Freedom

Arlington, Virginia

Robert A. Lawson

School of Business and Economics

Capital University

Columbus, Ohio

Donald Leal

PERC

Bozeman, Montana

Dwight Lee

Department of Economics

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

Stanley Liebowitz

School of Management

University of Texas

Dallas, Texas

Edward Lopez

Department of Economics

University of North Texas

Denton, Texas

John Lunn

Department of Economics and Business

Hope College

Holland, Michigan

J. Stanley Marshall

James Madison Institute

Tallahassee, Florida

Nancie G. Marzulla

Defenders of Property Rights

Washington, DC

Roger J. Marzulla

Defenders of Property Rights

Washington, DC

Ken Masugi, Ph.D.

Claremont Institute

Claremont, California

John McClaughry

Ethan Allen Institute

Concord, Vermont

Robert McCormick

Department of Economics

Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

Kelly McCutcheon

Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Atlanta, Georgia

Ed McMullen

South Carolina Policy Council

Columbia, South Carolina

Roger Meiners, Ph.D.

Professor of Law and Economics

University of Texas

Arlington, Texas

William H. Mellor

Institute for Justice

Washington, DC

John Merrifield

Department of Economics

University of Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Edward Moore

James Madison Institute

Tallahassee, Florida

John C. Moorhouse

Department of Economics

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Lucas Morel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Politics

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, Virginia

Andrew Morriss

School of Law

Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland, Ohio

Henry
Olsen


Manhattan Institute

New York City, New York

C. Kenneth Orski

Innovation Briefs

Washington, DC

Randal O'Toole

The Thoreau Institute

Bandon, Oregon

Daniel C. Palm, Ph.D.

Department of Political Science

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, California

Gary Palmer

Alabama Policy Institute

Birmingham, Alabama

E. C. Pasour

Department of Economics and Business

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

Mitchell B. Pearlstein, Ph.D.

Center of the American Experiment

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Steve Pejovich

Department of Economics

Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas

Roger Pilon, Ph.D., J.D.

Cato Institute

Washington, DC

Dennis Polhill

Independence Institute

Golden, Colorado

Lawrence W. Reed

Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Midland, Michigan

David W. Riggs, Ph.D.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington, DC

Thomas A. Rubin

Thomas A. Rubin Consultancy

Oakland, California

Peter Samuel

Toll Roads Newsletter

Frederick, Maryland

E. S. Savas, Ph.D.

Baruch College

City University of New York

New York, New York

Peter W. Schramm, Ph.D.

John Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs

Ashland University

Ashland, Ohio

Jane S. Shaw

PERC

Bozeman, Montana

Daniel R. Simmons

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington, DC

Randy T. Simmons, Ph.D.

Institute of Political Economy

Utah State University

Logan, Utah

Fred L. Smith, Jr.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington, DC

Vernon L. Smith

Economics Science Laboratory

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Sam Staley, Ph.D.

Reason Public Policy Institute

Los Angeles, California

Richard Stroup, Ph.D.

PERC

Bozeman, Montana

David J. Theroux

The Independent Institute

Oakland, California

Gordon Tullock

Law and Economics Center

George Mason University

Arlington, Virginia

Ronald D. Utt, Ph.D.

The Heritage Foundation

Washington, DC

Malcolm Wallop

Frontiers of Freedom

Arlington, Virginia

John Weicher

Hudson Institute

Washington, DC

Bob Williams

Evergreen Freedom Foundation

Olympia, Washington

Robert Whaples

Department of Economics

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Bruce Yandle

Department of Economics

Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

 

*The Lone Mountain Coalition is an ad hoc, informal consortium of individuals
committed to the principles contained in the Lone Mountain Compact. Endorsement
of the Lone Mountain Compact does not necessarily imply unanimous agreement
with every principle. Organizational names are for identification purposes only, and
do not necessarily imply any organizational endorsement of either the Lone
Mountain Compact or the Lone Mountain Coalition.




For more information . . .

on these principles, see A Guide to Smart Growth: Shattering Myths, Providing Solutions, edited by Jane S. Shaw and Ronald D. Utt (PERC/Heritage Foundation, 2000). The book is available for $11.50 (a 10 percent discount!) from Heartland's online store at www.heartland.org, or call Cheryl Parker at 312/377-4000.

To register your support for the Lone Mountain Compact, visit The Heartland Institute's Web site at www.heartland.org and click on the "I support the Lone Mountain Compact" button.